Any distracted or fatigued driver operating any vehicle is a potential threat to other motorists in the Houston area. However, there is a reason why distracted truckers are particularly dangerous.

Because they are larger and weigh more than cars, it takes longer for a truck to stop once the driver recognizes a potential hazard and takes evasive action. Furthermore, large trucks operate on air brakes, which, unlike the hydraulic brakes that passenger cars use, take some time to engage.

The end result is that, particularly at higher speeds, trucks take much longer to stop than do smaller vehicles. While most Texans probably know this intuitively, the actual numbers are sobering.

At a typical city driving speed, 40 miles per hour, it takes a truck about 169 feet to come to a stop, and it takes a car about 124 feet to come to a stop.

At highway speeds, 65 miles per hour, the difference is much more significant. While it will take a car 316 feet, or about the length of a football field end zone to end zone, to come to a stop, it will take a truck 454 feet to stop.

The bottom line is that what might be a near miss for a driver in a car will be a tragic accident if a truck driver does not notice and respond to a hazard down the road.

To some extent, longer stopping times are just a matter of physics, and so truckers must account for them. They can do so by paying careful attention to the road and making sure that they are alert and attentive at all times.

A fatigued or distracted trucker is especially dangerous because they will be unlikely to stop in the event of an emergency and thus cause a severe truck accident.